All Blacks: Hard work in store ahead of Tri Nations

By Gregor Paul

The All Blacks took their poor performance head on last night, freely admitting they took a couple of steps back and were now under extreme pressure.

The panel were all long faces and sombre reflection. They had no issue with the effort or application. They were, however, bristling about the tactical approach and the execution.

"What can I say?" was Henry's opening gambit, almost serving as an apology. "It was a disappointing performance and we have a lot of work to do before we play Australia."

Talk about understatement. The next three weeks will presumably be about fire and brimstone behind closed doors - an extension of what they got at half-time. Joe Rokocoko had never heard the coach unleash with the venom he did at half-time. Isaac Ross and Luke McAlister confirmed that with Ross saying: "He's definitely the kind of bloke you want as your friend not your enemy."

It was apparent that Henry let his side know they were nothing short of disgraceful and should be embarrassed that they were asking people to pay to watch them play so badly.

A camp in Wellington next week will set friend against friend, with the intensity of training likely to be as fierce as it's been for a long time.

There is also likely to be a few new faces brought into the squad and not just because the numbers are rising from 26 to 30.

Henry, normally not one to give anything away, said there would need to be some lengthy consideration around selection.

Richie McCaw, Rodney So'oialo, Conrad Smith and Sitiveni Sivivatu are all going to be back. That will add some bite and require a few of the younger players to yield their place. But Henry said much more would be needed.

"We are under pressure now. We need to come together as a team. Get tight. If we do the hard work over the next few weeks then I'm sure we will play well."

* Italian No 8 and captain Sergio Parisse was cited late last night for an alleged eye gouge on Ross.

- Herald on Sunday

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